“Here we are again”, I say to myself as I climb a ladder up towards my mother-in-law’s Christmas decorations, held precariously in the rafters of her garage for the past eleven months. I feel like I find myself saying something like this more often each year as the seasons roll on by, and yet of course, the same amount of time has passed. Fortunately, this year finds my family and friends healthy and safe and living in a country with beautiful choices available to them and a way of life that is arguably the envy of most of the modern world. As a natural born optimistic pessimist, I need to actively practice gratitude to focus on the silver lining of circumstances. To view problems as challenges and failure as growth opportunities, instead of succumbing to the internal need for perfection.

As luck may have it, I recently came across a quote that gave me pause and reason to think more deeply on thankfulness, celebration and renewal. Both for myself personally, and for my clients, as they wrestle with many of the difficult, emotionally charged situations that are part of a family business environment. The quote is by an author and poet, Mary Karr, who happens to have attended Macalester College, my alma matter and proving ground for my own self-actualization a million years ago (go fighting Scotts).

Karr writes, “Having devoted the first half of my life to the dark, I feel obliged to revere any pinpoint of light now”. Surely Ms. Karr has her own reasons for her words, which is a topic for a different time and place, however, to me they speak specifically to thankfulness, celebration, and renewal. If I could blurt out one thing in the middle of difficult client meetings, often focused management or family conflict, (which in my occupation happens to be often), it would be “Any pinpoint of light”! I see this as shorthand for saying, please extend grace to one another and give each other the benefit of the doubt.

The human tendency to focus on the negatives is one born from evolutionary survival. As primal people it was important to focus on all the ways in which danger could harm the tribe. That certainly has its place in modern society as well, however, it is often more productive to celebrate on the positive outcomes, business success and family/management harmony represents; to be thankful, to celebrate the opportunity to give to the community and build a business legacy. Perhaps the new year is a perfect time to ask yourself if this has been your mindset, and if not, it might be the perfect time to renew your outlook to one that focuses on the positives instead of the negatives. Even if it’s a single point of light.

Dan Iosue is an Associate of The Rawls Group, a business succession planning firm. Dan specializes in dealing with the issues that must be resolved by business owners to implement succession strategies geared towards building business value. For additional information, visit www.rawlsgroup.com or call 407-578-4455

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Strategic Planning

The only constant one can plan for is change.  Strategic planning positions the business to address the probable, possible, and potential contingencies impacting business success. 

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